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Curly Nikki

Another Ingredient to Avoid…

By January 27th, 202113 Comments

I ran across this yesterday on

From AlkalizeForHealth Toxic Ingredient Directory :
“Cationic surfactants – These chemicals have a positive electrical charge. They contain a quaternary ammonium group and are often called “quats”. These are used in hair conditioners, but originated from the paper and fabric industries as softeners and anti-static agents. In the long run they cause the hair to become dry and brittle. They are synthetic, irritating, allergenic and toxic, and oral intake of them can be lethal.· Stearalkonium chloride · Benzalkonium chloride · Cetrimonium chloride · Cetalkonium chloride · Lauryl dimonium”.

And guess what, DevaCare One Condition, most certainly contains 2 of them!!! SheaMoisture contains one. What’s a curl to do? At some point I have to draw the line, or simply start making my own products. I’ve been using DevaOne for almost a year now with no problems, but this is disturbing, especially the bit about it making hair ‘dry and brittle’ over time. Grrrr….

I’ve decided that I can’t wait to try the Lustrasilk…especially considering this new info, so I’ll be experimenting with it today after a DT. This is so disconcerting! Parabens, sulfates, silicones, quats, mineral oil, alcohols…seriously, where does one draw the line?

Edited to Add: Be sure to read the comments below for updates about this post! I’m not giving up my Deva!!!

Later Gators,


  • Anonymous says:

    WOW! This was Terrific information!

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the compliments. I haven’t been able to access my scientific journal database because it is being maintained.

    As I am trying not be biased, here’s what I can say about lustrasilk from an ingredient stand point. It seems to contain quite a few oils/fatty acids (the butters/oils/cetyl alcohol). These would probably be used for a ‘conditioning effect’. Meaning they make the hair strands feel smoother and softer. This is not to say that the hair is smoother or softer, it just feels this way as the oils/butters will sit on the hair.

    I can’t quite seem to find any proper research on using cholesterol in hair (that’s why I wanted my database!!), so I can only make assumptions from the chemistry. Cholesterol is quite unique being both a steroid and an alcohol (so it is a bit like a fatty wax). I guess it would be added in to the product along the same lines as the fatty acids and oils.

    Something to bear in mind is that quite often, manufacturers name ingredients in order of quantity (not always but often). Lustrasilk has listed early on a few ‘good ingredients’ like cetyl alcohol and shea butter which are good for conditioning. I’m not certain on the cholesterol part and a few people are allergic to wheat germ oil. I would also make a quick mention of the artificial colours (which are generally not necessary).

    It is a try and see approach for this one. The oils may be good for some hair but not for others (especially if your hair has little to no heat/chemical damage and good porosity, the product may make your hair feel heavy, oily and reduce the ‘slip’).

  • Jai says:

    I will definitely be monitoring my hair for dryness when I use the Sheamoisture. Thanks for the info Nikki and JC.

  • Suburbanbushbabe says:

    JC, great reply. I hope you start a blog of your own; I certainly would enjoy it.

  • CURLYNIKKI says:

    JC, Thank you soooooo much! I hope you come back often…maybe you can be our resident chemist!

    Not to put you to work, lol, but how do you feel about the Lustrasilk Ingredients?? I listed them under that ‘dayum!’ post, I think 🙂

  • Mlle M. says:

    Jc, thanks so much! It’s great to get a knowledgeable perspective on these claims. Sometimes there’s so much hype on the internet that’s not based on fact. Some other good sites to visit for fact-checking on beauty products are the Organic Beauty Expert blog and the articles on

  • Anonymous says:

    Ok I had to do some research for you as parabens are not something that I work with, although silicones are.

    Silicones from my experience are added for two reasons. First they coat the outside of the hair with a hydrophobic layer(water repelling) protecting the inner moisture(in the cortex) of the the hair. This allows silicones to correct porosity (meaning while you wash your hair, it will take up some water and the silicone seals that water). This also causes the hair to ‘slip’.Second reason, they are reflective and therefore create shine to the hair (hence why shampoos/serums which advertise themselves as shine enhancers are silicone heavy). The problem with silicones is that they are very difficult to remove. In the lab we actually restrict one room exclusively for handling silicone as once you get it on a surface, it is nearly impossible to get completely off even with aggressive solvents. So you can imagine that soap will not do a much better job. The build up of silicones can cause your hair to become dull as it builds up, it also attracts and traps dust/particles of dirt/natural hair oil etc. Some people also say their hair gets dry as since the silicone is stuck on and water cannot get in anymore but there is no research to support this. Hair serums on a separate note, add silicone to protect the hair from burning and to add shine(hence most thermal protection serums are also silicone heavy). Therefore everyone needs to make a decision on whether to use silicone products based on how frequently you wash your hair (ideally with shampoo, not co-washing because that doesn’t have sufficient detergent to strip off the silicone in general). I personally do not use silicone products (hair serum) as my porosity is great and my hair shines naturally (but yes there are trace amounts of silicone in my shampoo).

    Parabens are added as a preservative. At the moment, there are no alternatives since one of the best preservatives out there is formaldehyde and most people are not happy with that. Pretty much every product will contain parabens (and if they don’t want to scare you, it will just say preservative). The reason for this is the fact that these hair products (shampoo and conditioner) are actually mostly water. As I said before, a bottle of water on a shelf for several months means some serious bacteria. It would cost just too much to make preservative free products as they would probably need refrigeration and would still only keep for a week or so. Now I don’t fancy a trip to the supermarket to get my hair product everytime I need to wash my hair. Here are the facts, yes parabens have been found in breast cancers but nobody knows how they got there. Some (very weak) research points the blame at deoderants and cosmetics but really nobody knows. So again the decision is for everyone to make for themselves, you can pick a preservative free brand or not. Again, for myself (and myself only) I ignore parabens on the label.

    I wasn’t asked about this one, but I want to point out some very important information on natural products. First, natural products are not always a better alternative. Some natural products can be toxic depending on where they were obtained and how they were processed. Therefore, don’t just buy anything, pick one that is well processed. Secondly, natural products will vary batch to batch. The shea butter from one plant will not be exactly the same as one from a plant right next to it (this is just biology, cells do what they want to do). This is why the synthetic industry is booming because you can predict what results you are going to get from manufacturing the product from start to finish. This is not to say that you shouldn’t use natural products, but just to say if you use it once for a couple months, buy a second batch then suddenly don’t get the same results, you know the reason why.

    I hope that sheds some light on those products for you, glad to be of assistance :).

  • Unknown says:

    Thanks for all the info about ingredients. It can get exhausting trying to find the “perfect” products that don’t have any of the no-no ingredients. Thank heavens for people like JC who get this stuff on a scientific level, which is so above my head by the way!

  • Anonymous says:

    Hello everyone! I just discovered the blog and I must say I thoroughly enjoy reading it. I decided to go natural almost two weeks ago so I’m definitely a neophyte to this new curly world. I agree Nappturall CN is beautiful! Okay so let’s get on topic :-)… I used the Lustrasilk as a dt before (when I was relaxed)but never as a leave in. I may try this and let you know my results as well. Thanks again for the blog 🙂

  • Wes says:

    I agree guys! Thanks JC for clarifying. I just purchased the Devacurl One Condish 32 oz. myself not too long ago.

  • Anonymous says:

    …whoa..(rubbing hand across sweaty forehead) I gald for that info JC cause I started using the devacare one condish and its working for me…i just did a bc and my hair have not been dry….and also I just brought 4 32oz of it. My heart sank when i read that…what a kinky curlie to do? I just pray everytime and before I do my hair with any products…for now on…what to do what to do….

  • CURLYNIKKI says:

    Thanks Jc, this makes me feel so good! I was not going to throw it out, but that chemical would definitely be at the back of my mind every time I picked up the bottle. It has worked for me since last March, and while I’ve dealt with dry spells here and there, I never contributed it to the Deva One. So how do you feel about silicones? Parabens? Are the claims that we run across daily on the boards true? Or are people ringing false alarms?

  • Anonymous says:

    Nikki, this is simply not true. Cationic surfactants are necessary in hair conditioner. You need the positive charge to correct the negative charge which is obtained from shampoo (to help lift dirt and oils). The positive charge (cations)help the hair cuticle (protective scales) close down by allowing formation of hydrogen bonds.

    I am a research scientist as a profession. I think the only chemical that needs to be thrown out is mineral oil.

    The largest component of conditioner and shampoo is water (70% or more in most cases). Can you imagine if you had a bottle of water on the shelf for months with no preservatives? It would be a great home for bacteria, fungi, moss etc.

    So why throw away a product which is working? I do not think that all shampoos and conditioners are made equal and some may possibly have less research than others but I have to shout this message out about the bad press that hair care products get.

    Please, please, please hear me out!!

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